Nestle Unveils Prepared Food Push

Nestle, the world's largest food company, unveiled details of a new push into prepared foods for restaurants and hotels on Wednesday, saying it aimed to double revenue from the new division in 10 years to over 12 billion Swiss francs, and that it may use acquisitions to get there.

Swiss-based Nestle has made the division, Nestle Professional, which offers food services to convenience stores and school cafeterias, one of its three strategic priorities alongside blockbuster brands and health and wellness foods.

We may be looking at ways to improve the (target) number," said Marc Caira, Nestle board member and head of the division at a media event. "Acquisitions can always play a role (but) our focus is on internal growth."

The group aims to lever its big brands to help drive restaurant sales. In drinks, for example, the group aims to increase sales of Nescafe and Nestea and in foods, products like Buitoni pasta and Maggi soups.

Caira said the food-service market had around 2 trillion Swiss francs ($1,810 billion) in annual sales globally, of which 400 billion francs was relevant for Nestle. Nestle now has just over 6 billion francs in sales in the food service market.

"It is a large market and it continues to grow. It is also a very fragmented market," he said.

Outgoing CEO Peter Brabeck has reshaped Nestle through a series of acquisitions -- including Gerber baby foods and Novartis Medical Nutrition -- from a mass-producer of milk powder and breakfast cereal into the No. 2 spot worldwide for specialist nutrition for babies, hospital patients and "pro-active health seekers."

He has also shunned snack foods for probiotic yoghurts, for example, and turned up its nose at sweetened carbonated drinks in favor of mineral waters like Henniez and Perrier.